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Tabletop Game / World Tree (RPG)

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World Tree is a tabletop role-playing game set on a tree thousands of miles tall, whose branches are fifty miles wide and hundreds of thousands long. Eight "prime" species build a civilization with extremely widespread magic under the visible influence of nineteen seven-plus-twelve gods. Other intelligent races live in their shadow; the primes know that the world was created for the primes' benefit with the non-primes as part of the backdrop; some non-primes disagree. The world is very different from ours, from basic physics (no electromagnetism, no air pressure) to materials science (lots of wood, little metal; it's a tree), to cosmology (seven meddling gods visible in the night sky). The game focuses on adventurous primes who face monsters, intrigue and other parts of life on the Tree.

The prime races and the gods that created them include:

  • Herethroy (Creation): Peaceful, pastoral, six-limbed insects of three distinct genders who vary between farming and wielding three-handed swords.
  • Cani (Control): Chummy dog-folk with complex social structure and instinctual loyalty.
  • Rassimel (Healing): Obsessive, intelligent raccoon-people.
  • Orren (Knowledge): Shapeshifting mercurial otterfolk with a tendency to go hyperactive under stress. Described as having "species-wide ADD." Explicitly labeled the Jack of All Stats.
Less Common
  • Khtsoyis (Destruction): Sloppily-designed, floating heptapods (that is, seven-tentacled octopi) who pound things with triple-wielded clubs.
  • Gormoror (Control+Destruction): Mighty bears with a magic honor sense. Proud Warrior Race Guy is their hat.
  • Sleeth (Change): Non-anthropomorphic big cats with telekinesis over flesh-based objects and the Verbal Tic of speaking in present tense.
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  • Zi Ri (Sustaining): Cat-sized, immortal, hermaphroditic, hovering dragons with fire resistance and weak fire breath.

The game exists as a paperback sourcebook and an in-game novel plus the semi-canon, in-character diary of "Sythyry" written by one of the authors (which inspired several imitators).

The rules are largely skill-based, with most of what characters can do being summed up in their skills, together with ten stats and a point-buy attributes system. Magic is handled using an Arts system (similar to Ars Magica), with all magic made up of Nouns and Verbs combined in various ways. As the classic example, a fireball would use "create" and "fire".

For those interested, a rather good review can be found here.

This tabletop RPG provides examples of:

  • Above Good and Evil: Several Zi Ri are not only immortal, high-powered sorcerers, but have been around since roughly the beginning of the universe and may adopt this attitude. The sourcebook comments that this is "probably a bad thing".
  • Alien Geometries: Anything involving the god "Here" (Space/Location), his elementals, or enough of the associated magic Art can easily invoke this.
  • Alien Sky: Compared to the terrestrial sky, certainly: multiple moons that move somewhat erratically, the sun is a rolling crystal orb which ignites at dawn and is extinguished at dusk, stellar objects that wind about and fence each other or move stars around, and the seven creator gods looking down on the tree. And all of it but the stars are visible during the day.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: While most primes possess the typical colors of their real-life counterparts, it's not uncommon for some to sport fur in much more vivid and unusual shades. This is especially prevalent among the Rassimel, among whom pink, purple or metallic-hued fur is far from unknown, and the Sleeth, who are often dark blue or green.
  • Animal Jingoism: The Cani and the Sleeth tend to get along very poorly, as per traditional cat-and-dog rivalries. Cani are intensely social, obsessed with social standing, and like people neatly sorted between leaders and followers; Sleeth find their social structures repugnant, and hate taking orders. Sleeth, alone among all primes, can detect the smells the Cani social cues depend on; they also uniformly ignore them, which infuriates the Cani. The Cani's tendency to challenge each other and other Primes over authority also tends to induce violent reprisals from the much more high-strung Sleeth. Perdithorne, a species of lynx-like monsters, also dislike Cani more strongly than they do other primes.
  • Animal Stereotypes: The Prime species play fairly directly into their associated animals' stereotypes — the dogfolk are social, loyal, community-minded and obsessed with pedigree, the otterfolk are playful, fun-loving and fond of water, the bearfolk are gruff and fierce but honorable, the talking panthers are cunning, amoral and fond of hunting, and so on.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: While many politicians and bankers and such wield their own sort of power, high-ranking members in many of the guilds that rely on magic are, by definition, potent mages. Especially notable are the Smiths' guilds and the Healers' guild.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Subverted with Mind magic. There are legitimate reasons for studying that element, not involving Mind Rape, but anyone who's good at it is automatically suspect. See the entry below on The Dark Arts. Subverted with some monsters as well; some generally benign monsters have rather dire abilities.
  • Barbarian Hero: Gormoror consider this a dramatic ideal to live up to, and tend to fancy themselves might Beowulf-style heroes in the making. A typical Gormoror is very focused on building himself up as a fearsome warrior of great renown, and will enthusiastically engage in raids for treasure and glory, fight horrific monsters and enemy armies, swear mighty oaths, and preferably die nobly in a dramatically lopsided battle.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Gormoror, bear people, downplay this — they're aggressive and barbaric, but easily enough reasoned with. Churshash, however, play this entirely straight — they're very aggressive, bear-like animals driven into constant pain and rage by Wounds That Will Not Heal, their blood induces mindless fury in anyone it touches, and are generally a fair match for four well-armed and prepared warriors.
  • Beast Man: With a few exceptions, the Prime species all look like anthropomorphic animals of various sorts. The degree of anthropomorphism varies between species — Cani resemble furred humans with dog heads and tails, Rassimel have the bodies of bipedal raccoons but also have human hair, and Gormoror are simply upright bears with opposable thumbs. Several non-Prime species also resemble humanoid animals of various sorts.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: Bonstables are pathological liars and deceivers, but never say anything that they truly think is false. Rather, they constantly delude themselves into thinking that whatever ruse they're keeping up is the actual truth — when they take the shape of a Prime species, for instance, they convince themselves that they are actually a member of that species for all purposes — and when they inevitably change their minds and start another deception rationalize things to believe themselves to have always been correct and honest at any given time. This makes them very difficult to discover, since mind-reading magic can't generally penetrate their delusions and and lie detection reads them as perfectly honest and forthright.
  • Benevolent Architecture: In theory. The gods designed the world for habitability for their favored races, and filled it with inhabitable land and other resources for the primes. In practice, they also ended up filling it with monsters and natural hazards both for the hell of it and as a result of various design flaws.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Some creatures resemble outsized arthropods of various sorts. Zonn, for instance, are essentially grasshoppers the size of cattle.
  • BFS: The three-handed sword, a popular weapon among Herethroy warriors, who have enough limbs and coordination to actually use one effectively.
  • Blessed with Suck: Parents of different prime species can have a child, using complex magic. The hybrid kid gains the intellectual and magical benefits of both races at all times, and must shift between the two... painfully and involuntarily every hour (they can resist, but that hurts more) using the physical benefits of the current species, and dies young of debilitating illness. Theoretically, said parents could use even more magic to ensure the child comes out looking like only one of them. However, that's another ritual spell, and given their preparation times most people probably don't have time for that.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": A lot of World Tree creatures are given the names of Earth animals with similar social roles for the sake of expedience. Horses, for instance, are named such because they're domesticated for use as pack and riding beasts despite actually being nine unrelated genera of animals, some possessing claws and feathers or bony plates or the like.
  • Catlike Dragons: Zi Ri behavior is often described in feline terms, particularly concerning their intense sense of self-worth, their love of hunting, their love of cuddling and attention, and their tendency to purr when happy. It's no accident that they're one of the few species that can consistently get along well with the Sleeth.
  • Cats Are Mean: Sleeth are the most innately amoral primes, with little concern for things like morality, duty, honor or kindness. They enjoy hunting and toying with their prey, and possess an innate tendency for cruelty — a kind Sleeth is one who is only cruel to foes and small animals, and being indiscriminate in one's cruelty is seen as a minor vice at best.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: "Here," god of Space, appears as a skeletal Herethroy carapace with shifting holes revealing unspeakable things. Elementals of position can be all the more terrifying for not having even that much personhood in their structure. Creatures from outside the universe sometimes break in, like a miles-long killer slug.
  • Cumulonemesis: Accanax, the god of destruction, periodically manifests in the World Tree in the form of a thundercloud, and terrifying things happen in his shadow.
  • The Dark Arts:
    • Mind magic is treated as this in the eyes of Prime civilization. This is due to the generally intrusive or controlling applications it's put to; there are legitimate uses, but even then it's considered suspicious, and "mind mage" has the same ring as "necromancer" in other settings. The negative reputation is played up more in some in-character journals than in the sourcebook; in the book, merely being good at mind-magic generally won't get you shunned, so long as you don't use it (in however benign a manner) on anyone but yourself. Given that Birkozon's stated ambition is total, if indirect, control over the Tree, anyone who meddles in mind-magic (Birkozon's domain) may be thought some degree of stupid, but so long as you keep it to yourself, everyday people have better things to worry about than your personal damnation. (Though there are those — in the Healers' Guild and knightly orders — who are more vehement about it.)
    • Necromancy does exist on the World Tree, but is at most viewed as "Rude" rather than "Evil" by those not related to the animated. Family? They might sue you... or worse. Compounded by a spell that creates a dead copy of a subject.
  • Death Is Cheap: Used, but not quite as cheaply as expected. While certain healing spells can bring back a person after they're technically dead, most of these work best right after death, and leave the patient in quite a bit of anguish for a week or two. Resurrection after the soul has passed on (which doesn't take long) is much more difficult, with mistakes made frequently enough to discourage most attempts.
  • Destructive Savior: Flokin is charged with protecting the universe against extradimensional invaders — when alien gods or demons or Eldritch Abominations creep into the world, he's the one who chases them out before they have the chance to do too much damage. However, Flokin also has a very poor grasp of restraint, proportion or collateral damage — his typical approach to finding out that a city has been infiltrated by some horror from beyond the world, for instance, is usually to burn the city and most of its surrounding countryside to cinders. While he's a very efficient protector on a global scale, this is cold comfort at best for the people who happen to be in the ground zero of an incursion.
  • Destroyer Deity: Accanax presides over Destroc, the magic of destruction. He's a very good match for it in personality — sullen and violent by turns, he is interested in creating little besides monsters, sometimes spawning a dozen species of horrors on at a time to scatter on the edges of civilization. He is one of the likeliest Verb gods to manifest in the Tree itself; when he does so he appears as a dark thundercloud in whose shadow happen terrible things.
  • Elemental Embodiment: Each of the noun gods brought along some number of lesser spirits, referred to as anything from angels to demons to fairies but most commonly as elementals, to help manage and oversee their element. By far the most common are the air elementals, who perform the constant work needed to keep weather predictable and livable in the setting's bizarre universe, but comparative handfuls of water, fire, time, location and other elementals exist as well. Other elemental types are rare — the god of animals prefer to use mortal knights as servants, and it's not all that clear what difference would exist between a plant elemental and regular if active vegetation.
  • Empathic Weapon: Weapons and spells can have semi-intelligent spirits. "Bound spells" can be made to go off under particular conditions, though these are far cruder than instilling an item or spell with spirit.
  • Fantastic Flora: Plants are generally as likely to be magically active as animals, and several species exist that do things like power fire magic, produce cley, inhibit one's ability to sense magic, heal wounds and sicknesses, and so on. Other plants grow metal nuggets, stones precious and non, salt and other minerals in their leaves, stems, flowers, fruit and so on, which are often the only sources of these things on the Tree.
  • Fantastic Racism: Prime society is fantastically racist. Sleeth and Khtsoyis can expect to be routinely denied entrance into guilds and high society, and for that matter much in the way of respect — a Khtsoyis archbishop and duke was expected to feel honored for being allowed to sit among the day laborers at her own retirement banquet. Non-primes get it even worse, and are lucky when they're treated as second-class citizens and allowed to enter cities without being lynched — more commonly, they're considered monsters or non-entities whom the primes can conquer, displace, rob and kill with little consequence.
  • Fantasy Metals: In addition to regular iron, copper, silver, gold, mercury and so on, the World Tree contains a number of fictional metals with various properties:
    • Branzinion is blue, hard as iron and much heavier. It's mostly used in blunt weapons and axes.
    • Hezarion is deep red and very ductile. It's favored by Herethroi, who use to make inlays on their exoskeletons.
    • Mnerorzion is dark purple, veined with lighter stripes that slowly shift. It's most popular as jewelry.
    • Yulexion is dark and aromatic, and mostly favored by Cani and Sleeth because they like its smell.
  • Feathered Dragons: Zi Ri are very varied in appearance, and often possess avian traits. A given Zi Ri may simply possess avian wings, may have a fully birdlike head, or may outright resemble a scaly, mildly draconic bird.
  • Fleeting Passionate Hobbies: The Orren have this as one of their hats. They are stereotypically described as having many interests that they flit between and learning new skills easily, the latter of which is represented in the rules with a chance to gain extra skill levels.
  • Force Field: Via magic using multiple methods. Perhaps the most interesting is literally creating extra space between yourself and the incoming attack
  • God Is Evil: Some of them, some of the time. Even kindly Virid (Creation) made a small percentage of her species into mixed-gender people (a fourth gender; they have three naturally), and made the rest instinctively or dogmatically hate them.
  • God Is Inept: Any number of questionable design foibles were put into the world by the gods. The Khtsoyis origin story, the origin of the seasons (in particular, the season of "Surprise"), and so on. The gods in concert would be omnipotent, but have never cooperated that much since the world was first made, if then; any of the gods can find the answer to any question it wishes, but they don't always know what questions need to be asked.
  • God of Fire: Flokin is the Noun god of Pyrador, fire magic. He's notable for his temperamental, proud, and destructive personality, which he employs in his secondary job as the World Tree's security guard slash cosmic bouncer against unwanted extradimensional intruders.
  • God of Order: Reluu, one of the Verb gods, presides over Ruloc magic — that is, magic focused on controlling and directing a desired substance. He greatly favors structured, hierarchical societies, and designed his created species, the Cani, to naturally gravitate towards urban life, value tradition, and form extensive networks of loyalty and kin ties.
  • Grows on Trees: Played with; while the grand examples are absent, there are plants that grow small amounts of metal or other hard materials in their leaves, nuts, or so forth. Some grow gemstones, although not many; bushes that deposit salt in their leaves are more common. In a setting without much metal, this can be invaluable to harvest and refine. Also, due to their Magitek, Primes can do quite a lot with certain types of nut.
  • Have You Seen My God?: A downplayed example with Lenhirrik, the goddess of plant life. She's currently in the shape of a wooden Herethroy statue, completely unresponsive, and has been for thirty years. This isn't the first she's done so, but every previous occasion lasted a day or two at the most. There's currently a lot of worry and no hard information, and speculation ranges to her having fallen victim to another deity to just being in the middle of a god's equivalent of a nap.
  • Heinous Hyena: Cyarr, the setting's primary enemy species, are centauroid hyenas. They're noble, civilized and highly moral in their own societies, but they're also obsessed with waging constant war against the primes and eventually eradicating an entire prime species to take their place.
  • Hit Points: Though the units are different than those in the game rules, primes have discovered there really are distinct health units that lead to death when depleted, and that practicing having your spirit hang onto an injured body raises your injury tolerance. Adventurers have volunteered for scientific "titration" (i.e., "death by a thousand cuts") to get this practice. These units aren't exactly quantal — that's a gameplay abstraction — but it's still quite measurable how well a spirit can hold onto a damaged body.
  • Intelligent Gerbil: The Sleeth, for all intents and purposes, are panthers that can talk and do magic. Several non-Prime species also resemble intelligent animals with some additional physical features, such as akkamagga (intelligent, six-legged lizards) and wherriwheffle (intelligent, eight-legged ferrets).
  • Jerkass Gods: It appears the universe was created as a form of entertainment for the gods and their various otherwordly friends. Consequently, the constant misfortune heaped upon the Primes is purely because the gods find it amusing to watch them deal with it.
  • Lazy Dragon: Merklundum Harnispundum, a god who favors draconic form, is the most inactive deity in the World Tree, and spends the vast majority of his time sleeping in a cave somewhere in the World Tree's distant reaches.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: Zi Ri expect to live forever, and are built to withstand it mentally. Powerful sorcerers try for this too, but since it requires learning Mind magic, they risk being accused of Immortality Immorality.
  • Longer-Than-Life Sentence: "Doorwaying", letting a non-prime into a city, gets you multiple executions. With an equal number of resurrections if it was an angel sent by the gods, or otherwise did no real harm. Healing magic is cheap enough in general that corporal punishment is not seen as a great thing — and getting killed and resurrected is just an extreme form of such punishment.
  • Lost Technology: Much of society was wiped out during the Holocaust Wars, which means that ancient artifacts are frequently found by adventurers. However, the trope is notably subverted in that magic theory has advanced significantly over time. So while the artifacts may be valuable for their historical significance, their effects tend to be crude and trivial by modern standards. The sourcebook mentions a famous enchanted weapon that would be considered a homework assignment for second year students at most academies. Holocaust War artifacts may be especially potent because nobody would dare make such destructive things anymore, but probably not because they're beyond the reach of modern enchanters to make. On the other hand, the gods did get more personally involved in the old days; god-touched artifacts are much less common now (and were never exactly plentiful).
  • Made of Iron: Justified, since there's plentiful healing magic, and survival is more dependent on the ability of a creature's spirit to hold on to its body (see the example on Hit Points) than the survival of any specific part of the body; even if there's an arrow through your heart, if the spirit clings well enough, it can keep beating.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Subverted slightly, due to the gods' direct influence over magic. Primes have tried to make this true by developing "scientific" types of magic that are predictable... mostly.
  • Magic Potion: The taptet, a species of deer-people, have a unique skill — partly a kind of species-specific magic and partly carefully-guarded secret knowledge — for making potions that confer considerable power or advantages to the drinker at the cost of alarming side effects, such as potions that confer great strength for a time but leave the drinker weakened and feeble when they wear off or healing draughts that induce tremors. Most other people prefer to use traditional magic, which is less powerful but much safer.
  • Magitek: Magic is the technology. Why use expensive glass to make a crude tool that imitates an off-the-shelf microscopic-vision spell? Though there are some reasons to use such things, especially where information-gathering is concerned — information-spells are inherently unreliable. Sometimes you'll know they went wrong. Others, you won't — and that's when they're most likely to be horribly wrong.
  • Magic Points: Justified as part of the world's physics. Primes get distinct units of "cley" (perceived magically as keys), and spells usually cost one unit, with more contributing more power if the caster is able to shove them in / if a spontaneous spell happens to use them. On the flipside, you can try to cheat, getting a weak spellcast without actually using a cley — but you need (and risk) one cley to make the attempt.
  • The Magnificent: When two Gormoror are called the same, they keep themselves distinct by attaching a moniker after their names. By preference, Gormoror prefer to without such a descriptor, implicitly because doing so implies that you're so badass that you're the first person that people will think of on hearing your name. Second-best are impressive titles based on some notable deed. Failing that physical descriptors are used.
  • Malevolent Architecture: When they made the Tree, the gods quite deliberately put all the livable areas on branches whose edges, up to twenty-five miles away, are filled with powerful, custom-designed monsters.
  • Mind Screw: This one is about what magic can and can't do, particularly healing and destruction. One cannot either heal something so much it can't be destroyed again, nor destroy it so much it can't be brought back. Granted, the complexity of the reversal gets higher with each heal/destroy cycle.
  • Mundane Utility: Most primes know spells with little adventuring use, for tasks like creating water or cleaning dishes. An in-book example shows an ordinary woman fretting over whether to study an obscure magic art to learn a better dish-washing spell, versus getting (expensive) clay dishes which the more common spell won't destroy like it would wooden ones.
  • Mushroom House: Dullogs are large, dome-like mushrooms that grow up to a few hundred feet around and forty high. Their insides are spongelike networks of interconnected chambers, which people — usually non-primes, as most prime species have better options — often use as living spaces. While windows can be cut into the outer cells to let in light, people living further in depend on the fact that dullog flesh glows orange when wet.
  • Nay-Theist: True atheists are very rare in the World Tree — it's a difficult view to hold when the seven creator gods are visible in the sky at all times and there are multiple reliable historic records of the twelve lesser ones interacting with civilization throughout history. Instead, atheists tend to take the view that, real as they may be, the gods aren't inherently better or more "divine", whatever that may mean, than anything or anyone else — they're just bigger and more powerful. The sourcebook notes this to be a defensible position.
  • Neglectful Precursors: Some of the gods qualify, and the magic tied to their Art shows the repercussions:
    • Pararenenzu's absent-mindedness explains the innate 5% failure rate on Knowledge spells.
    • Kaimiri, God of Time, has been sleeping since the world's creation, but left his servants with very detailed instructions for every occasion; time gods can do that.
    • Merklundum Harnipsum the Dog Who Killed a Fish (Water)'s only known miracle is to show up and scold a scholar who abbreviated zir full name, and that only happened once. And even that may be apocryphal. Zie is similarly resting, and advanced water magic (the sort which usually gets a god's direct, if brief, attention) tends to be underwhelming for this reason.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Magically-created objects soon vanish by default, but it's fairly easy to make them permanent. The book points out that the existence of Healing magic implies that everything has a natural "intact" state, and low-level Healing spells make wounds vanish only temporarily.
  • Not Completely Useless: Sythyry regularly casts "The Raven's Beak," which does practically nothing but gives experience in every magical element.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: The cyarr are a form of hyena-centaurs, with the lower body of a giant hyena and the torso, head and arms of a humanoid one.
  • Our Dragons Are Different:
    • Zi Ri are a species of small, hermaphroditic dragons who are often very different, even from each other — Zi Ri are very physically varied, and can range from regular if miniature Western dragons to bird-winged and/or -beaked versions of the same to reptilian birds. Some even look like tiny griffins or lizards, although deliberate self-mutation is probably at play there.
    • Merklundum Harnispundum, the god of water, typically appears as a dragon made out of woven brambles.
  • Our Gods Are Different: The gods, referred to collectively as the seven-plus-twelve, are divided into two categories:
    • The seven verb gods, known as the creator gods, which each had a hand in the creation of the world itself and a prime species (or two), and each manage a magical Art related to how a things are affected; a Verb. Among them are creation, destruction, knowing, changing, sustaining, healing, and controlling. They generally sit in the sky and watch, rarely intervening in mortal affairs; two of them are known to visit on a frequent basis, but say and do nothing of consequence.
    • The twelve noun gods, who live on the tree itself and manage an element, a magical Noun. These gods are much more active in the affairs of mortals. The twelve nouns are fire, water, air, stone/metal, plant matter, animal matter, time, space, mind, spirit, sensation, and magic itself.
  • Our Sphinxes Are Different: Kaimiri, the god of time, is said to resemble a great sphinx locked in a state of sleep-like mediation, endlessly contemplating mysteries known only to itself.
  • Painting the Frost on Windows: The World Tree's natural systems are anything but natural, and to ensure that they'll keep working the gods created vast numbers of elementals to oversee them. Between the universe's weird shape and weirder physics, for example, habitable weather wouldn't naturally arise on it. The reason it does anyway is due to the endless armies of the air elementals, who constantly work to push clouds around, squeeze them for rain, make the winds blow, keep the air clear, arrange the seasons and the like.
  • Personality Powers: The various gods all have personalities and temperaments matching the form of magic that they preside over:
    • The Verb gods selected the types of magic they'd sustain based on which ones fit their personalities better. Some matches are closer than others.
      • Accanax, god of Destruction magic, is sullen and violent. He mainly creates wild, sloppily-designed monsters on passing whims, which he scatters on the edges of civilizations.
      • Gnarn, goddess of Mutation magic, notably doesn't match her field very well — her cruel moods and preference for creating elegantly-made and supremely deadly horrors would match Destruction better, but it's believed that she chose to let her younger brother Accanax have it instead.
      • Hren Tzen, goddess of Sustaining magic, is an adequate fit for zir portfolio. Zie's more of an artistic sort than anything, but zir creations are also very well-crafted and made to endure through the ages. The most notable is zir Prime species, the Zi Ri, which zie made to be ageless and everlasting.
      • Mircannis, goddess of Healing magic, is endlessly benevolent and primarily creates useful, unobtrusive creatures such as honeybees and medicinal plants.
      • Pararenenzu, god of Detection magic, is notable a very poor fit for his field — he's flighty, mercurial and easily distracted, and consequently doesn't take his field very seriously. In-universe, this is the reason for the flat 5% fail rate of Detection spells.
      • Reluu, god of Ruling magic, is noble and honorable, and loves clean, clear hierarchies where everything has its proper place.
      • Virid, the goddess of Creation magic, has an artistic streak and a mild, personable temperament, and especially enjoys making living beings.
    • Noun gods and their elementals likewise tend to have thematically matching mindsets, and their associated magic is also often described as having similar "personalities":
      • Birkozon, god of Mentador, is obsessively controlling and self-centered, and has absolutely no compunctions about using his powers to control, influence and subvert the minds of others. His greatest desire is to rule the entirety of the World Tree some day.
      • Flokin, god of Pyrador, is aggressive, quick-tempered, and cheerfully destructive, and is infamous for his casual cruelty. Much like him, fire magic is difficult to control and prone to wriggling out a mage's grasp with hungry red fingers.
      • Hressh-Huu, goddess of Airador, is a wild and joyful trickster endlessly flitting from one amusement to the next; she used to run the weather as an ever-changing whirl of extremes, and had to be forced by the other gods to stick to a regular progression of seasons. The winds of the World Tree take after her in temperament, mischievously snatching and tossing objects to vex mortals.
      • Merklundum Harnipsundum, god of Aquador, is a lazy, passive, and constantly-sleeping deity, much as water itself would rather pour along downhill or sit in a depression than go sloshing off on its own accord. Likewise, water magic can be difficult to "motivate" and push into doing what you want.
  • Physical God: Many of the world's creator gods appear in physical form on the titular World Tree with some regularity. Some of them blatantly reveal their identity and openly display their omnipotence (indeed, some of them lead guilds and other organisations, and one of them in particular, Birkozon, the god of telepathy and mental magic, rules an entire realm on the Tree). Yet others prefer to stay hidden, walk in disguise, or not get physically involved much with the world they created at all.
  • Points of Light Setting: The World Tree has many branches, and is constantly growing. Civilization tends to gather atop the newest and best-sunlit branches, in handfuls of mighty cities and smaller villages, each normally surrounded by powerful and deadly magical walls. This is because outside of these areas are many monsters and dangers deliberately created or encouraged by the gods to populate a world of adventure, while the geography of the Tree encourages civilization to exist as long series of cities strung out along the (relatively) narrow branches, which makes it very difficult to enforce any kind of large-scale rule. While there are old and broken cities deep within the shadows of the lower branches, some possibly with treasures worth entire new cities, they might as well not exist anymore once the monsters take over.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Mind and Body magic. Reversed with cley transfer, which grants someone more Magic Points but requires an embarrassing hug-and-kiss ritual.
  • Primitive Clubs: The Khtsoyis, the most primitive and thuggish of the Prime species, traditionally fight with big wooden clubs, sometimes with nails in them, triple-wielded in their tentacles.
  • Proud Warrior Race:
    • The Gormoror are in many ways a parodic exaggeration of this. They mostly live in small tribes on the edges of civilization, and they're obsessed with a Bronze Age sense of honor focused mostly on fighting grand battles and performing mighty deeds. They occupy most of their time with living out their personal heroic legends, generally by challenging one another to dramatic duels, fighting monsters or rival tribes, swearing and keeping honor-oaths, or raiding and sacking other species' settlements for treasure and the glory of killing a few farmers, stealing their stuff and hightailing it before the army arrives.
    • The cyarr are highly militaristic, expansionistic and devoted to their personal ideals of honor. They're in a state of constant war, either hot or cold, with the primes, for the sake of honor, revenge for past slights, and territory, and are ruled by warrior-nobilities who hold themselves to incredibly strict moral standards. This lifestyle presents something of an issue for them, however, as they have no access to healing or metal-shaping magic, which gives them serious disadvantages in protracted battles and campaigns — the associated gods plain don't like them and deny these gifts to the Cyarr.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: A Zi Ri is known to have once blasted the goddess of animals with the spell "Grand Inferno", with no effect.
  • Rat Men: Scawn are a non-prime species resembling humanoid rats about four feet tall. Because each Scawn can alter its shape once or twice in its life, and these changes usually breed true, many tribes and bands sport various additions to the basic bodyplan — they may be rat people with stinger tails, or with wings, or with horns, or so forth. Insofar as other species are concerned, they're mostly minor annoyances, petty thieves and would-be brigands. They have a peculiar obsession with the feline Sleeth, believing that they will reincarnate as a Sleeth if they're killed by or if they themselves kill one. Both beliefs are false, and greatly irritate the Sleeth.
  • Reincarnation: All mortals reincarnate after death, although all memories are removed between lives. The Gornazzits, a non-prime species resembling furry slugs, are an exception to this — they remember all their past lives, and some can clearly recall the time before primes existed.
  • Screw Destiny: The cyarr (hyena-centaur) race of non-primes believes it can achieve prime status and become one of the gods' favorite races, if only they exterminate one of the existing prime species.
  • Sexy Dimorphism: Gormoror are the most sexually dimorphic Prime species. Their men are, for all intents and purposes, bipedal bears with opposable thumbs; their women are much more anthropomorphic, with flatter faces and breasts.
  • Shapeshifting: Orren naturally shift between anthropomorphic and small, feral otter forms, and can adjust transformation spells cast on them. The spell "Cloak of Another God" turns one prime temporarily into another and is moderately easy.
  • Shoulder-Sized Dragon: The Zi Ri resembles dragons not much larger than a hawk.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: Sleeth always speak in the present tense, even when discussing events firmly in the past or future, and use "the" instead of "a".
  • Talking Animal: While most primes are either anthropomorphic or fully fantasy creatures, the Sleeth are simply panthers that can talk.
  • Those Magnificent Flying Machines: Travel between branches of the World Tree by necessity involves crossing enormous gulfs of empty air for anyone who doesn't fancy the long trip around through the trunk, and skyborne vessels are consequently common and, as they're explicitly magical in nature, very elaborate. Airborne ships, chariots pulled by birds and giant kites are among the more common of these contraptions.
  • Translation Convention: Employed by the rulebook. As the foreword notes, the in-universe names of the magical skills are based on the names of the gods (Viridoc, Accanoc), but for ease of use, are rendered based on English words (Viridoc is Creation, so Creoc; Accanoc is Destruction, so Destroc).
  • Treetop World: The entire setting exists in the highest reaches of a single, mind-bogglingly large tree floating in space. The ecosystem there is friendly and well-suited to intelligent beings; lower reaches are progressively less explored and more perilous until the lower trunks become a full-on Death World. Cities are mostly strung out along the upper surfaces of branches — the sides of branches and the trunk, called the Verticals, are mostly home to flying monsters — and metal and stone are very scarce and mostly obtained from certain plants that deposit them in their leaves and fruit.
  • Trickster God: Hressh-Huu, goddess of the air and weather, adores tossing wrenches in others' plans and vexing pompous mortals. At her whim, a sudden rainstorm might boil out of the sky to delay a critical message just long enough to send a delicate political situation spiraling out of control, or a document detailing plans for treason might be snatched from a desk by a sudden wind and sent spiraling right into the local duke's office.
  • Uncoffee: Kathia, a spicy drink made from the leaves of the kathia plant, is described as similar to coffee or spiced tea. There is an associated character flaw, "Needs Kathia to Wake Up".
  • Useless Useful Spell: There's a listing for the spell "Destroy the World", along with other mighty spells likely way above anyone's skill level.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Bonstables can take on the form of either any Prime species or of silver-winged birds.
  • Weather Dissonance: Built right in; a one-month-long season known as Surprise involves all nature of interesting and odd weather, in addition to typically being very hot or very cold for the entire month. The rest of the time the air elementals in charge of weather behave... more or less, and getting a universe like the World Tree to have mostly temperate, liveable weather means those elementals are doing a great deal of work indeed.
  • What Measure Is A Nonhuman: Non-primes variously know, don't care, or ignore that the gods don't particularly care about them, and the terms "monster" and "non-prime" are used nearly interchangeably; the former is less polite. Primes' "mageriums" (mind-spirit connection and link to the gods) are visibly different too.
  • Wicked Cultured: Nendrai, large reptilian monsters greatly feared by primes, thoroughly enjoy the benefits of civilization and surround themselves with the best creature comforts that they can. Their floors are covered by fine rugs, their libraries hold all the classics, and their cellars are stocked with rare vintages. They're personable and educated as well, and can be engaged in perfectly pleasant conversation, as long as the other party can convince the nendrai that it wants a chat more than it wants lunch or a new slave.
  • World Tree: Explicitly, with literal branches and leaves and amber. The setting consists chiefly of a civilization built on the topmost branches of its central trunk; the World Tree goes on much further beyond that, with additional trunks and layers of branches extending much further beyond that and potentially forever.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: Chursash — bear-like venomous creatures — have a rather nasty variant of this, in that five gashes open on each of their cheeks at adulthood and remain there, dripping blood, for the rest of their lives. This serves to render them constantly angry and aggressive, and thus a constant challenge for primes to deal with. Their one saving grace in this is that, being simple animals, they're not intelligent enough to truly bemoan their fate.
  • Xenofiction: The game is superficially about Funny Animals, but each of the Prime races has its own specific instincts, drives and feelings that make them distinct from humans and strongly impact how their societies, or lack thereof, work, even ignoring their magic and other powers.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: An interesting example, the spell "The Infinite Grenade" uses a combination of destructive, healing, and sustaining magics to repeatedly detonate the titular grenade.